A self-goal by the RSS

The Akhand Bharat controversy exposes the Sangh’s ideological dogmas and difficulties.

Written by Sudheendra Kulkarni | Published:January 6, 2016 1:01 am
Ram Madhav, Akhand Bharat, PM Narendra Modi, RSS, Narendra Modi govt, BJP, India, Pakistan, express column, Ram Madhav, BJP National General Secretary. (Express photo by Ravi Kanojia)

Two things are taboo in the RSS and the BJP. The RSS never admits there’s anything flawed or outdated in its ideology. The BJP, which has allowed itself to be ideologically captured and organisationally controlled by the RSS, never publicly challenges the parent organisation’s core beliefs. However, reality does not respect any organisation’s imagined infallibility. Those who have tried to dictate the world to follow their own dogma have fallen by the wayside. History accommodates, even applauds, those who change with the times. But changing with the times demands honest self-criticism in the public realm. This spirit is in short supply in the RSS and BJP.

The RSS has always claimed that “Hindu Rashtra” and “Akhand Bharat” (the two are inter-related) are its core beliefs, which will not change even if the organisation changes some of its external features. However, at the very first brush with the recently changed reality in the India-Pakistan engagement, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bold visit to Lahore, one of its ideological pillars, Akhand Bharat, has developed embarrassingly huge cracks. These cracks are vainly sought to be covered up with weak explanations and confounding clarifications.

Look how hurriedly the BJP, through its spokesman M.J. Akbar, officially distanced itself from the “Akhand Bharat” remarks of its own national general secretary, Ram Madhav, made in the course of his interview with Al Jazeera. Akbar is capable of penning an entire book to demolish the RSS’s view of “Akhand Bharat”. However, he didn’t even vaguely criticise it. Madhav, a well-known RSS pracharak himself, has tried to wriggle out of the self-created controversy by writing a clarificatory article in this newspaper (‘A people’s idea’, December 29).

Madhav’s self-defence is ineffective. Take, for example, his claim: “Let me reiterate that the Akhand Bharat doctrine is a cultural and people-centric idea. I was not even remotely suggesting that we should redraw the boundaries of our countries.” Now, watch his interview. He was indeed suggesting a redrawing of the boundaries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He asked his interviewer, Mehdi Hasan, “If two Germanys can come together, if two Vietnams can come together, what makes you think that India and Pakistan cannot come together?” Madhav surely knows West and East Germany, as also South and North Vietnam, redrew their boundaries when they reunified. Their reunification was a political process, in which the two divided parts lost their sovereignty and separate identities when they became “Akhand Germany” and “Akhand Vietnam”. By using this analogy, Madhav was clearly hinting that Akhand Bharat, in the RSS’s conception, means the political reunion of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This is what the RSS has always stated: That the Partition of India in 1947 was wrong and unacceptable, and that this wrong would somehow be corrected in future. Madhav candidly describes this as “the generational vision of the RSS”. He even shows his hurt feelings by indirectly questioning his critics within the RSS why his remarks on Akhand Bharat “became an issue” now, when the same thing was “stated and restated several times before by several people in the Parivar”.

To his credit, Madhav made many good points in the interview by giving a more inclusive and tolerant interpretation to the policies and actions of the Modi government. He’s also right in stating that the coming together of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would not be “through armies or aggression, but through popular goodwill”. Indeed, all should welcome “a people’s reunion at the cultural and societal level” in our subcontinent, which has suffered immensely on account of the artificial walls of separation erected by our governments. But will Madhav admit that his praiseworthy statement strikes a blow at the other foundational pillar of RSS ideology — Hindu rashtra? Both before and after Partition, the RSS insisted that Bharat, “Akhand” or “Khandit”, is a Hindu nation. Madhav and other RSS-BJP leaders should explain how they can ever create goodwill among the Muslims of Pakistan and Bangladesh — not to speak of the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists in India — by propagating that today’s Bharat is, and tomorrow’s Akhand Bharat (even in a confederal form, without redrawing boundaries) will be, a Hindu rashtra.

When confronted with this argument, RSS leaders predictably claim its critics don’t understand the real meaning of the word “Hindu”, and that it’s a cultural, and not a religious, concept. They are free to delude themselves. But this, too, is unacceptable to non-Hindus and also to a majority of Hindus. Besides, to equate Indian culture with Hindu culture is to disrespect Article 51 A of the Constitution, which requires us to “value and preserve our composite culture”.

Here’s the supreme paradox: Most RSS-BJP supporters themselves understand “Hindu” only in its religious connotation. Many of them reject the call for Akhand Bharat by saying, often in bigoted ways, that the coming together of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh would reduce the proportion of the Hindu population and increase that of Muslims.

If the RSS genuinely desired the com-ing together of the peoples of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it had better discard both the Akhand Bharat and Hindu rashtra shibboleths.

 

The writer was an aide to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaye.

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Jan 6, 2016 at 12:59 pm
    Mr. Kulkarni should first review what his recent outreach to Mr. Kasuri and stan has achieved for India , which is nought . So, he will claim it has brought the people of subcontinent closer. Is he not then working , albeit surrepiously , for a cultural "Akhand Bharat" ? Then he must be asked that what were his reactions to Mr. Aiyar's infamous comment (" inhe hataiye Hume laiye"), because he was present as a panelist in that TV program. If he agrees, is he not alluding to a political union of the countries, as it amounts to one taking over the other ? Now correct me if I understand this as a unsavoury version of political "Akhand Bharat", with Mr. Aiyar as Mir Jafar ? With these, I am beginning to appreciate what Shiv Sena activists did to him ...
    Reply
    1. H
      Haradhan Mandal
      Jan 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm
      TEST -- Bjp has no idea why was it voted to power?It was voted because Congress was corrupt and there was general break down of effective governing.Period.Now BJP has concluded India is ungovernable and it really can not do much better,not withstanding honest hard working Modi.It is cristal clear.It was not that Congress is corrupt and its leadership is ruddarlessdia is very corrupt,not land,its people,they are too many,no concept of law and order or working insution,case in point with all talk of NSA and tall talk,the terrorist easily penetrated Patancot,commandeering a SP car with blue beacon,and killed more security people than the 6 they lost.and 3 days.How smart you have to be to check out a dead terrorist who is wearing suicide Bomb.Do yo need to be rocket scientist to get close to get blown up?That is for you,real India.Why would a SP go to border at 2.30 a.m,when you are a Sikh,to visit another Faith,worship site?No one USa or FBI buy this fairy tale?But in India'SAB CHALTHA HAY' BJP or Congress does not matter.I rest my case.H.Mani,USa,with no Malice.
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      1. H
        Haradhan Mandal
        Jan 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm
        TEST 1 2 3 1 2 3 (to see, if I am blocked)!
        Reply
        1. M
          Madam
          Jan 6, 2016 at 1:44 pm
          Possibility of U S S A. United States of south asia. Should be tried.
          Reply
          1. S
            Sajesh Kumar
            Jan 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm
            You have to think how to reduce muslim potion in India. Other wise more Pak and Bangla will be made with the help of Congress and Communist.
            Reply
            1. K
              K SHESHU
              Jan 6, 2016 at 7:36 am
              History has left us problem as K.R. Narayanan expressed rightly. Now we have to move forward. We can do it only if we accept the reality. But harping on what would have happened is of no use.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ajay Sunder
                Jan 6, 2016 at 11:56 am
                Excellent article!Thank you.Please do not worry if you don't get appreciation for the article. Let me tell you that you represent me and a number of my friends and others who have the same view as you and me.What you have told us is not known to many .Time for RSS to decide whether they would allow Mr.Modi to do something for which he has got the mandate and for which even people who may not necessarily like him would support him or the RSS would keep sticking to its hidden agenda and keep offering Gajendra Chauhans.
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                1. A
                  Arun
                  Jan 6, 2016 at 8:26 am
                  Hinduism is a philosophy. A way of life. The doctrine of which allows me the choice of acceptance or rejection. Rama or Ganpati or atheism too. The Upanishads or Gita or tantra or mantra. Hindutva, on the other hand, is a militant imposition of wrongly interpreted tenets of Hinduism. Hindutva is a political tool -- nothing to do with the religion itself. When Hinduism is a philosophy, Hindu Rashtra Akhand Bharat is nothing but nonsense.
                  Reply
                  1. A
                    Arun
                    Jan 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm
                    Hinduism is a philosophy. A way of life. The doctrine of which allows me the choice of acceptance or rejection. Rama or Ganpati or atheism too. The Upanishads or Gita or tantra or mantra. Hindutva, on the other hand, is a militant imposition of wrongly interpreted tenets of Hinduism. Hindutva is a political tool -- nothing to do with the religion itself. When Hinduism is a philosophy, Hindu Rashtra Akhand Bharat is nothing but nonsense.
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Azure
                      Jan 6, 2016 at 2:01 pm
                      East and West Germany united to become a strong nation, then why not Akhand Bharat be a reality ????
                      Reply
                      1. I
                        Indian First
                        Jan 6, 2016 at 9:47 am
                        Great article by a legendary Sudheerji....you are the most outspoken person around...
                        Reply
                        1. I
                          Indian First
                          Jan 6, 2016 at 9:45 am
                          India a home for 20 crore muslims, pak for 18 crore muslims, bangla for 18 crore muslims and total 56 crore... will let 'beef is banned? also pls explain there will be a single parliament? then these 56 cr will be thorn in the RSS s...
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                          1. I
                            Indian First
                            Jan 6, 2016 at 9:42 am
                            Will beef is banned in the proposed 'akhand bharat' ram madhav ji?
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                            1. B
                              BHAGWAT GOEL
                              Jan 6, 2016 at 12:19 pm
                              WHAT BETTER ONE CAN EXPECT FROM A SELF SEEKING GADDAR. PARION WAS THE GREATEST THING THAT HAPPENED NOW THAT EMOTIONAL LINK IS GONE. IN AKHAND BHARAT, MUSLIMS WOULD HAVE RULED FOR EVER. NOW THEY ARE DIVIDED IN THREE PARTS. INDIAN MUSLIMS NOW REALISE THAT INDIA IS BEST BET. BHARAT IS HINDU RASHTRA AND IT IS NOT HINDU STATE AS HINDUS DO NOT WANT IT. IT WII BE WISE NOT TO PROVOKE FURTHER. I NEVER IMAGINED THIS KULKARNI aastin ka saanp niklega. WORLD IS FULL OF SURPRISES.
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                              1. D
                                Deepak Iyer
                                Jan 6, 2016 at 10:04 am
                                Akhand Bharat can only be a geographic possibility now and not a demographic one. If the demography of Bangladesh and stan were to be imilated to erstwhile India, it would throw up more challenges than solutions. A bourgeois Muslim potion will only aim for a Darul Islam and the complete annihilation on Hindu civilization which was the original blue print of the Sultanate and Mughals. This at a time when they were hardly 3-5% of the potion. With a demographically diverse Akahand Bharat , their potion would go upto 40% which would be akin to suicide for Hindus.
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                                1. V
                                  Vijay
                                  Jan 6, 2016 at 6:23 am
                                  RSS is the only bulwark against islamic bigots. RSS is organisation to protect the interest of hindus when saudi and iranian funded islam is fast expanding in india. Every intelligence officer knows this fact but people like sudhindhra kulkarni will continue trying to spread hate against RSS. They accuse RSS of capturing political power. Then who should be allowed to capture political power ? Foreigners? Or muslims? I don't understand why a cultural patriotic organisation like RSS is so much hated by these writers. Go to any RSS office . The first worship is offered to Bharat Mata. They love this nation so dearly but still these people try to portray it something anti india. I am not a member of RSS but when I visited it once wth one of my friend I saw them talking issues in the interest of the country. Sudheendra Kulkarni is a fake man it seems. He must go to RSS insutions .perhaps then he may realise that he doesn't undestand RSS. I don't think that even in RSS there is any element of casteism else why would RSS support a prime minister from OBC . We modern people don't even think abt casteism. RSS in my opinion is a nationalist organisation and works to protect the interest oof hindus in an era where minority appeasing has reached its climax.
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                                  1. V
                                    Vijay
                                    Jan 6, 2016 at 6:10 am
                                    The author seems to think himself the spokesperson of majority Hindus. Sir plz speak for yourself alone as majority of hindus don't have as skewed views as yourself. It is always the hindus who are asked to sacrifice. Muslim invaders came from outside and destro our temples and looted hindu women and converted fearful hindus. People like you never even mention tthis historical fact. Then hi asked hindus to accept muslim PM and every government department to be headed by muslims to appease jinnah. Muslims are breeding like pigs bt hindus only asked to be tolerant. Demographic changes ttaking place at a fast pace increasing muslim potions but still hindus are blamed. Only hindus are preached of tolerance while muslims are exploding bombs and killing people.
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                                    1. d
                                      drywpande@yahoo
                                      Jan 6, 2016 at 11:14 am
                                      RSS thinking on Akhand Bharat is well known for last 7-8 decades. It is not hidden. What was hidden and not known is the the sudden opposition to it and sudden love for Jinna and his stan by Advani and his P. A.
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                                      1. G
                                        Guest4321
                                        Jan 6, 2016 at 5:49 am
                                        Sudheendra Ji, regarding stan; "laaton ke bhoot baaton se nahin maante" Ram Madhav explained that Akhand Bharat is a cultural concept and does not have to happen by force. Spiritual and moral force of India will make this happen in due course. Indianized kingdoms existed in Asia centuries ago, and that was based on the spiritual and moral force that India permeated in those days.
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                                        1. G
                                          greenspace
                                          Jan 6, 2016 at 7:19 pm
                                          What is the Big Deal?? "Akhand Bharat" is not about some physical re-unification---everyone knows it is impractical . The 21st century children want to know history, they want to know things----where they came from and so on.... "Akhand Bharat" is one tool to win over hearts and minds. War and conflict in this region can only end when people hearts and minds are won over. That's all they are doing---something HUMAN for a change!!!
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                                          1. G
                                            gauri
                                            Jan 6, 2016 at 9:22 am
                                            Sir, I think the article in not worth publishing. I was surprised that a traitor like Sudheendra Kulkarni has been invited to write an article. He who knows nothing about ideology and beliefs of RSS has no right to comment on them. I think focus should be on other issues like youth fallin g prey to ISIS ideology and traitors of India who are selling the nation for money.
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